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Lapses in commuter manners change with the times


The main feature in Weekly Tokyo Keizai (Feb 16) is the current state and future plans of Japan's commuter rail networks. The 19th of the section's 20 pages is devoted to the problems of passenger manners. We have insights into what commuters find most annoying thanks to an annual survey conducted by the 72-member Association of Japanese Private Railways.

According to the responses, the biggest source of irritation by commuter rail passengers in 2018 was caused by people who carry baggage aboard, so stated by 37.3% of respondents (multiple replies were accepted). It was the first time for this objection to be ranked in first place, having gained two places from the association's previous survey.

Apparently it has become stylish among the younger set to commute with a rucksack slung over one's business suit. "This leaves them with both hands free to operate their smartphone," explains a spokesperson for the association.

Speaking of smartphones, a footnote to the survey explained that it has dispensed with use of the term keitai (mobile) and from this year uses smartphone exclusively.

Following in descending order (with the ranking of previous year's survey in brackets), the next nine objections included people who engage in noisy conversations or rowdy behavior (36.9%, formerly in 1st place); improper methods of sitting (34.5%, 2nd); lapses in manners when embarking or disembarking from the train (34.3%, 5th); sound leakage from headphones (23.2%, 6th); ways of using a smartphone (not in previous survey, 21.5%); boarding while in a state of inebriation (15.4%, 9th); applying cosmetics aboard the train (15.1%, 11th); discarding rubbish or empty cans on the train (14.2%, 8th); and eating or drinking at times when crowding is most severe (10.0%, 13th).

Toyo Keizai notes that as more people use maps and GPS apps, or to notify their contacts that their train has arrived at the station, they tend to concentrate on their smartphones while walking and disregard the presence of others.

"There have been more cases of people who fall off platforms or collide with other passengers because they can't divert attention from their sumaho," says a representative of the association.

Each year, NTT DoCoMo conducts a "safety class" for 1.3 million people, at which the dangers of walking while using a smartphone are emphasized.

The main telecom firms now offer applications that detect movement and issue warnings against using the smartphone while walking, but users appear resistant to anything that reduces the functionality of their devices.

Mitsutaka Kitaori, professor of social psychology at Kinjo Gakuin University in Nagoya and author of the 2017 title, "Why is there no end to annoying acts? A look at Japan's society from the perspective of 'nuisance studies,'" tells the magazine: "It would be desirable to build in functions that would restrict use of smartphones while walking. But without heavier coverage of tragic accidents, it's going to be difficult to change people's attitudes."

As for people's manners in general, Kitaori observed, "The definition of what constitutes 'annoyance' changes with the times. But heavy-handed regulations only have the effect of stifling society, so the best thing is to nurture a sense of empathy for those around us."

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Not removing a backpack on a crowded train is indeed annoying. Also, young people sitting in priority seats can be a problem when they don’t offer them to people who need them. The flip side of that is elderly not sitting in priority seats but rather expecting people in regular seats to give them up.

7 ( +9 / -2 )


I agree that that is more of a problem, but you know what? Things will never change. This is Japan.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The Weekly Tokyo Keizai is trying to drum up readership over minor problems.

That's a pretty astute generalization, since it appeared as a one-page sidebar accompanying a 19-page article.

Besides, who says business magazines have got to be boring?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As someone who spends more time riding Tokyo trains than any human should, a few of my personal pet peeves are:

-People wearing backpacks that block the way

-Pregnant women (who deserve a seat!) standing in front of non-priority seats and passive-aggressively flashing their maternity mark pin

-The people who start shoving people in the back as soon as the train door opens, rather than realizing that most of the people in front of them are also getting off the train, if they'd just wait

-The people (usually elderly women - who also deserve a seat) who cut to the front of the queue on the platform and push their way toward first choice of the available seats

-The poor access for people who struggle to walk (elderly, physically disabled, etc.). I had always thought it was sufficient until my elderly parents came for a visit, and I saw how much they struggled due to elevators/escalators that are either not enough in number, or placed so far away that it took a huge effort to use them

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Here's something that's really rude: Sitting people who leave gaps between each other that are just small enough so that others can't sit. And if enough people do that, then there are tons of people being forced to stand, because those seated don't have the common decency to scoot a little closer together to allow more people to be able to sit down.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sitting people who leave gaps between each other that are just small enough so that others can't sit.

Lol, if it's a cutie sitting there, wouldn't be a problem for us

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Lol, if it's a cutie sitting there, wouldn't be a problem for us

I hear you brother!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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